If you’re researching water softeners, you have probably discovered both salt-based and salt-free (or saltless) systems. And, if so, you may be heartily confused about which one is best for you.
Let’s take a look at how each type of softening system works and consider which might be better for your home.
What Is a Salt-Free Water Softener?
The first thing you need to know about salt-free softening systems is that this technology does not technically soften water – because it does not remove the very minerals that create hardness.
Technically, a saltless system conditions or descales the water, which is very different than softening. Depending on the system, this is achieved by passing the water over a catalytic or magnetic medium, which binds the minerals together into crystals – leaving them in the water!
Salt-free softeners give you none of the health benefits or practical advantages that come from soft water. You will still have to use much more soap, shampoo and laundry detergent than you would with a salt-based system. You will still have gray, dingy clothes and milky spots on your glassware and shower doors.
The one benefit provided by a saltless softener is that, for some customers, it can reduce (not eliminate) the buildup of lime scale in your plumbing system.
What Is a Salt-Based Water Softener?
This time-tested technology has been around for more than a century – since 1903, in fact.
Salt-based softeners use the scientific process of ion exchange, during which calcium and magnesium ions are removed. This is achieved by passing the water through a negatively charged substance known as an ion exchange resin. The softened water then travels through your home’s plumbing system.
By removing these minerals, you reduce the pervasive mineral scale that clogs your pipes and shortens the life and reduces the efficacy of your dishwasher and washing machine.
Which Type of Water Softener Is Right for You?
Salt-based systems are not only more effective than salt-free softeners, but they are also more cost effective. And salt-based systems are adaptable to the level of hardness of your water. In other words, salt-based softeners can work for virtually any home.
Salt-free systems, on the other hand, do not work with every type of hard water. Depending on the nature of your water, a saltless system may not make any appreciable difference in your home’s quality at all.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you. However, for the excess cost and typically inferior outcome, saltless softeners do not deliver a good return on investment for most homeowners.
In Draper UT, NuWater Technologies offers a full range of home softening, filtration and heating systems. We also do professional water testing for residents of northern Utah. Contact us today to learn more about how a salt-based water softener can benefit you and your family.